The peritoneal cavity is a potential space between the parietal peritoneum (the peritoneum that surrounds the abdominal wall) and visceral peritoneum (the peritoneum that surrounds the internal organs). The parietal and visceral peritonea are layers of the peritoneum named depending on their function/location. It is one of the spaces derived from the coelomic cavity of the embryo, the others being the pleural cavities around the lungs and the pericardial cavity around the heart.
|Latin||Cavitas peritonealis, |
saccus serosus peritonei
It is the largest serosal sac, and the largest fluid-filled cavity, in the body and secretes approximately 50 ml of fluid per day. This fluid acts as a lubricant and has anti-inflammatory properties.
The peritoneal cavity is divided by the transverse colon (and its mesocolon) into an upper supracolic compartment, and a lower infracolic compartment. The liver, spleen, stomach, and lesser omentum are contained within the supracolic compartment. The small intestine surrounded by the ascending, transverse, and descending colon, and the paracolic gutters are contained within the infracolic compartment.
The peritoneal cavity is a common injection site, used in intraperitoneal injection.
An increase in the capillary pressure in the abdominal viscera can cause fluid to leave the interstitial space and enter the peritoneal cavity, a condition called ascites.
The peritoneal cavity is involved in peritoneal dialysis.
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- peritoneum at The Anatomy Lesson by Wesley Norman (Georgetown University)